Vermont Performance Lab’s 10th Anniversary Season Begins in Partnership with Ghosts and a Dance, April 29

on .

Northampton, MA – At the launch of its 10th Anniversary Season, Vermont Performance Lab (VPL) partners with The School for Contemporary Dance and Thought (SCDT) in Northampton, MA to co-present a work-in-progress of choreographer Aretha Aoki’s latest work, New, created in collaboration with visual and sound artist Ryan MacDonald.

Since 2006, VPL has supported the creative process of over 350 artists working in dance, theater, music and film through its innovative Lab Program. Partnerships with arts organizations like SCDT are key to allowing VPL to respond to each artist's research needs, expand audience reach and create non-conventional pathways for engagement and connection between audience and artist. SCDT programs performances and workshops with established international performance practitioners and offers a dynamic range of dance training in Northampton, MA.

Aoki and MacDonald are based in Western Massachusetts and their project was selected for development through VPL’s SEED Program. Created in partnership with the performance incubator Studio 303 in Montréal, the SEED Program is part of a growing initiative at VPL to provide more robust creation support and visibility for local choreographers. Aoki and MacDonald will develop their new work through residencies at VPL and Studio 303 and will receive commissioning fees, studio space, and additional resources to support the development and presentation of New.

Aoki’s choreography has been performed in various venues throughout New York City and New England. The New York Times dance listing has described her solos as "contemplative and probing." She often collaborates with MacDonald on the sound score and visual imagery in her work. MacDonald is an award-winning short fiction writer, animator, and composer. The impulse for New comes from an ongoing practice started in 2014 that the artists describe as “letting the ghosts come in the space of performance.” To develop New the artists will draw on Aoki’s Japanese heritage, family stories and memories to create text and an improvisational movement score to become, as she says, “a medium for the residue of family history.”

On Friday, April 29 at 7:00pm, VPL will partner with SCDT to co-present a work-in-progress of New. Reservations can be made by calling SCDT at 413-695-1799.

VPL’s SEED Program is supported by grants from the New England Foundation for the Arts’ New England States Touring Program, the Vermont Community Foundation's Arts Endowment Fund, the Québec Government Office in Boston and VPL’s Creation Fund donors.

# # #

Vermont Performance Lab (VPL) is a laboratory for creative research and community engagement. Since 2006, VPL has brought artists of regional, national and international stature to the grange halls, studios and classrooms of rural Vermont through its innovative artist residency program. Last year VPL’s community and education programs served more than 1,700 students, young professionals, families and seniors in Windham County through workshops, informal performances and art-making experiences. VPL often partners with local organizations to host such residencies and create meaningful connections between artists and communities.
Follow Vermont Performance Lab on Facebook and Twitter: +

The School of Contemporary Dance and Thought (SCDT) is comprised of independent and internationally experienced performance artists/movement practitioners who are also innovative teachers. The goal of SCDT is to serve as a hub by maintaining space for the local community and curating performance art of the highest quality by connecting communities on an international scale. SCDT showcases contemporary movement training and performance practices that embrace multiplicity, arouse curiosity, and emphasize personal choice. Central to the school’s mission is an abiding respect for the tradition and history of re invention and a directive to continue challenging established ideals. SCDT offers adult and youth programming in dance training that includes modern, ballet, hip hop, contemporary Indian dance, and improvisational techniques. The school creates a space for the creative process by regularly curating performances and workshops with established international performance practitioners. SCDT works collaboratively with Stephanie Maher and the Ponderosa TanzLand Festival outside of Berlin, Kathleen Hermesdorf and Alternativa in SanFrancisco, Jared Williams and The New Movement Collaborative in Boston and the Northampton Community Arts Trust. SCDT is affiliated with the Northampton Community Arts Trust and is working to maintain the space at 25 Main in Northampton as a vibrant community arts space for the greater pioneer valley.

Founded in 1989, Studio 303 supports live art, prioritizing the development of emerging practices in contemporary dance and interdisciplinary performance. Serving as both an incubator and a catalyst, the organization has a unique structure combining creation/production, professional development, and presenting activities. As a hub for experimental and outspoken performance, Studio 303 often works with artists who escape definition and who seek new models for artistic creation. Studio 303 programs artists (for residencies, presentation or workshops) through an open call for submissions by a selection committee composed of staff and artists, or by invitation from the Artistic Director. Most foreign artists come to Studio 303 through a partnership between organizations. Studio 303 advocates, facilitates discussions and hosts innovative networking events with the goal of helping creators locate and develop interesting opportunities to better support their practice. More than a simple doorway to the professional milieu, Studio 303 is one of the most creative, multifunctional, affordable and welcoming artistic centres in Canada.

New by Aretha Aoki in collaboration with Ryan MacDonald
Co-Presented by Vermont Performance Lab and the School for Contemporary Dance & Thought
A Dance Residency Exchange between Vermont Performance Lab and Studio 303
Drawing on her Japanese heritage, family stories and memories, Aoki creates text and an improvisational movement score to become, as she says, "a medium for the residue of family history."
WHEN: 7:00pm Friday, April 29
WHERE: 25 Main Street, 4th Floor, Northampton, MA
TICKETS: $10 Tickets / Call the School for Contemporary Dance & Thought 413-695-1799


Aretha Aoki is from Vancouver, BC. Her choreography has been performed at Brooklyn Studios for Dance, A.P.E Gallery Ltd., Danspace Project, the Academy of Music, Movement Research Festival, Center for Performance Research, Catch, Exit Art Gallery (Culturebot’s “Ephemeral Evidence”), New York Live Arts (2011/12 Fresh Tracks artist), the Kitchen (Emily Roysdon’s A Gay Bar Called Everywhere), the Chen Dance Center (2010 Newsteps artist-in-residence), the Firehall Arts Centre, AUNTS, the 92nd St. Y, and Studio 303 (2007 Vernissage-danse artist in residence). Aretha is currently making and rehearsing a new work by Emily Johnson/Catalyst Dance with whom she has collaborated and performed for seven years. As a performer, she has worked with Rebecca Serrell Cyr, devynn emory, robbinschilds, Vanessa Anspaugh, Heather Kravas, Juliette Mapp, Daria Fain, Maura Donohue, Elizabeth Ward, Martin Lanz, Faye Driscoll, Lisa D’Amour & Katie Pearl, and others. She is the Editorial Associate at Contact Quarterly and a Contributing Editor for CQ Journal 39.1. Aretha holds a BFA from Simon Fraser University and a MFA from Smith College.

Ryan MacDonald has worked collaboratively in sound, text and video with choreographer Aretha Aoki, and in sound for Vanessa Anspaugh and devynn emory. His debut collection of short stories The Observable Characteristics of Organisms was recently published with FC2 after the title story won the American Short(er) Fiction Award. His visual work has been exhibited nationally in galleries such as 11:11, Art Space, Crossroads Gallery, A.P.E. and the Fountain Gallery among others. Ryan teaches digital art at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst/Lowell.